The cat found out first1.
Emboldened by distance and encouraged by the gentleman caller, I'd crossed a pair of Rubicons in typical late-gay-bloomer fashion: until now all my relationships had been monogamous (in practice, if not in theory,) and I hadn't gone in for no-strings-attached affairs, either. I had only fooled around with dudes who I'd at least spoken to before and intended to speak to afterwards, though admittedly that didn't always work out—sometimes it was me coming to my senses, though.
I walked home2 bearing a six-pack3 and an equal or possibly greater volume of uncertainty, then proceeded to drink one of those beers4 far faster than was necessary before simultaneously debriefing the dude5 and queuing up a list of songs to sing, loudly, badly, at aforementioned cat. I drank another one in the shower, music up loud enough that it could be heard above the water, then stepped out: clean, damp, buzzed, slightly hoarse, still unsure about what I'd done (aside from the obvious, though really that was more of a who.)
In retrospect, it seems a bit ridiculous: we'd established the framework, I'd been clear about what I'd been up to while out of town, and even when I asked, looking for an out, I received the same steady, patient encouragement I'd been given throughout6. Despite this, I sat down to add a couple more songs to a playlist, caught my own reflection in the screen, and asked the cat7 if I'd irrevocably fucked up a relationship with a man I was too busy telling myself I couldn't love to realize that I did.
1. predictably, the cat wasn't sure what I was up to: our relationship, thus far, having been that I gave friendly words and behind-ear scratches in exchange for good morning headbutts to the beard, intermittent purring, and, just once, a kneading that I was puzzled enough to record video of—to be informed later that it was a comfort-seeking behaviour. I sneeze less now, so maybe I was being given more than I thought, there.
2. Used here as a flexible, almost post-geographical kind of thing: in Montreal, where Kristen will tell me off if and when necessary, it's in Parc-Ex, where Little India hosts the Greek Day parade and what it apparently the city's best souvlaki joint is a stumble down the block; in Vancouver it's divided between the couches I wake up on with some regularity and where, you know, my mailing address is; it's also wherever Rob is, largely due to his habit of welcoming me home whenever I see him, no matter where we are.
3. I stopped for beer, afterwards, at the same depanneur where I'd had a sandwich, before, and the clerk there (from whom I'd bought a different six-pack the day before, and had a brief but pleasant chat about trading Vancouver's rain for Montreal's snow,) cocked an eyebrow, as if he knew I'd been up to something in the time between visits but said nothing, blissfully.
4. making it number three on the day; numbers one and two having been consumed under the guise of testing the reasonableness of actually having a beer called a breakfast IPA for/with breakfast. The preliminary decision was that it was doable, since an earl grey-spiked beer combined both tea and toast, in a way, but further testing was necessary for a proper verdict.
5. all of our relationship discussions thus far have been via text message, involved some amount of nudity, or both; if for whatever reason our iMessage history gets PATRIOT ACT-d someone is going to have one hell of a time.
6. the man is a gem, if it wasn't clear.
7. in the way of things unthought until they were said and once said, unretractable. Long-time readers may notice a theme.
May 03, 2013
February 10, 2013
Line up another list of four-minute loops of melancholy, then sing along until your voice gives out. Do this thing in the hopes that it might dislodge that small and persistent ache stuck at the core of you—accreted or ejected: pearl or projectile, depending.
Repeat this, to no great result, until you realize it's not something that's happened yet but some baffling and entirely novel problem: good man, bad timing, looming spectre of departures and agreed-upon end dates fuelling some sort of advance preview on heartbreak.
Wake up holding him, watch late winter's grey light filter through curtains and onto his sleeping form, careful not to disturb the hand of yours he holds; adjust the big-spoon-arm you still have no idea what to do with and wonder how this is a thing you can do and feel like you will miss simultaneously.
Note the ways you both enforce agreed-upon distances and the places you stop yourselves and each other: discuss public displays of affection while walking and then segue into whether either of you has had any success out in the world of other dudes. Do the same thing when he's settling into your arms as you go to bed for the night, or at a dinner party when you go to fish out a cat GIF and remark upon the dating site emails that only seem to pop up in his company.
Tell him to be less compelling, adorable, thoughtful; remind him he's liked (enormously, mind.) Mostly, though, remind yourself; maybe it'll stick, but it has yet to.
He'll start, just a little, when one of your friends refers to him as your boyfriend and as you start to deflect now and explain later how he's not and what that means (noting her mild skepticism and not-so-mild concern,) recognize that your central ache has shifted, slightly, and that you don't know whether it's the explanation or the necessity thereof that still bothers you.
Find yourself startled by the unlikelihood of a work dream and a moment of unrecognized surroundings before letting the arm around you and the deep, even breaths of a man firmly dreaming lull you back to sleep. You both snore, occasionally; don't think about how you've gotten pretty good at nudging the other into a position where it's less troublesome.
Step on a scale after wondering why none of your pants fit properly any more, and realize that the gentle and persistent increase of your stress level left you without an appetite: you're down twenty pounds, this thing is quite literally consuming you. Recognize this as both convenient and alarming, and make a note to eat better, since you're eating less.
Out for drinks with your friends, get called on all of this, hard. They do it from a place of concern, and they'll be right in pointing out that none of this is good for you on a variety of levels and that you can't think your way out of this: without actually talking to him, this isn't going to go anywhere and as much as you can try to convince yourself whatever has gone on so far is working, there's physical evidence to the contrary.
Out for drinks with his friends, have a pair of asides as you get moved from bar to table; one about a tweet from the night before about the value of being told things you needed but didn't want to hear, the other about not being sure about what to introduce you as (there's an inadequacy in 'friend,' a discomfort in 'boyfriend,' an absurdity in 'gentleman caller,') and mention, briefly, that the relationship that you set out to have isn't the one you've been having, of late.
Table it, for the rest of the night, so that you can get back to the business of meeting his people and later laying waste to them at Street Fighter. He'll beam, and turn the moment into one of those looping internet video deals, and kiss you on the forehead when you win the third match of five, causing one of his coworkers to demand double or nothing on the bets (the one who bet against you in the first round, which he will soon learn is unwise.)
Leave early, again, having to work the next day, and get pulled into a serious kiss; add this to the brief list you've been making in the off chance you have to rebut his claims of detachment (aware, wholly, that it's not like it would make a difference if he didn't want to be there, any more.) Pretty much everything on the list are things you find exceedingly endearing, though; consider it a potential add-on to the things you like about him, if this keeps going.
Before dinner and a movie (the movie ends up being a bunch of RuPaul's Drag Race that you have on your laptop,) end up on his couch, looking at each other, his hands on your knees and yours in your lap, afraid to ask a question but knowing the alternative is worse. Remember, briefly, ducks to faces at two hundred and forty knots; breathe deep, and start out by checking in. You're both okay with where things are, and though it's not something that either of you planned for, it's been more than alright, so far. It's still not forever, and it's not entirely monogamous (which is totally fine, as long as he comes back with good stories, you tell him; he says to do the same when you're off on vacation next month,) but it's nice to be able to reconfigure. The casual pretence is gone, and you hadn't really thought about how it's surprisingly pleasant to be attached (but you are, to him, who is delightful, so.)
Think about but don't mention how, the first time you were on this couch, you talked about being adults and getting to decide what this looked like, and that here you are, being adults and deciding what this looks like. Remember the preemptive rebuttals you'd drafted, and move them over to the things you like about him column; tell him about it first, just to see what face gets pulled (it's not the smug dimple, this time, but a sheepish grin you're happy to kiss off his face.)
From there, it's a lot easier; movies are usually chosen on grounds of ignorability and this one is no different, after a few hours of watching and not watching drag queens vie for a ton of money and engage in arguably the most postmodern of reality TV shows, head to bed. You won't sleep for a while, yet, but when you do get around to it, he'll hold your hand to his chest and nestle contentedly, like the same weight's been lifted from both your shoulders.
Settle in to sleep and recognize the lack of central ache, thankfully. Hum eight bars of a song you realize you don't really need to lean on any more, pull him a little closer, and close your eyes.
Posted by Gerald at 12:47
January 01, 2013
1. What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before?
saw the second anniversary of a workplace, actually managed to stay in a relationship for a year, had a one-night stand, caved to internet dating, went to a high-school reunion, saw a net reduction in the number of books I own, came out to my siblings, grew an even fuller beard, started thinking about what I want my 30s to look like. I made plans to leave Vancouver, only to realize I'd done the right things for the wrong reasons and another year made the most sense.
oh, and I got my heart broken.
2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
leave the city: no
get out of debt: no
leave the closet: my siblings know, so a little bit?
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes! I have a nephew, now.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
5. What countries did you visit?
I went to Portland, once, and that was about it.
6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
a clearer career path, a smaller waist size, the ability to pare my belongings down to an absolute minimum.
7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
New Years and straight-dude-makeout-offs, brunch, and secrets; Toronto trip and the beginning of the end; Bad Decisions Night; my sister and I dropping a couple facades; Radiohead in Seattle; The Wooden Sky show at the Biltmore and the acoustic closing bits; birth of the little dude; the PDXcellent trip; Wye Oak/Dirty Projectors, the weeks of my parents' absence; advance breakup information release, the ton of launches.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I got into a school that I'd been wanting to attend for an age (only to realize it wasn't yet doable.) Also I wrote basically a dissertation (8,000 words!) on things I learned after the end of my relationship, which was useful for me and apparently enlightening for others.
9. What was your biggest failure?
I half-baked a plan to leave so I could be closer to a dude who was in the process of falling out of love with me, and even after we ended things I was pretty set on going forth; I'm not sure if the ultimate decision not to go ahead with it or the fact that I even went there was the failure in question but I guess that's what hindsight is for.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I had to have a root canal, also some serious heartache, but otherwise not really.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Marty the Retina MBP.
Honorable mentions: cardigans, another trip to Portland, the 70-200/2.8L lens.
12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
They know who they are.
13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
They know who they are, too.
14. Where did most of your money go?
debt, travel, stupid shit, single malts.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
leaving (until I didn't,) my new nephew, future life goals.
16. What song will always remind you of 2012?
Wye Oak - "Civilian" and Fiona Apple - "Werewolf" (though the RAA's Stamp is an honorable mention.)
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? sadder.
b) thinner or fatter? thinner, which I'm working on.
c) richer or poorer? richer, marginally.
18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Admitting, saving, giving myself room to breathe.
19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
waking up alone, being the world's mopiest nerd, buying stuff I didn't need.
20. How will you be spending Christmas?
At home, getting ready for Boxing Day madness at work.
21. Did you fall in love in 2012?
nope, though I may have broken someone's heart.
22. How many one-night stands?
one, and I'm not sure if I'm up for another.
23. What was your favourite TV program?
Homeland, RuPaul's Drag Race, The Legend of Korra.
24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Nobody new, but it's not like it was a long list to begin with.
25. What was the best book you read?
fiction: 1Q84 almost by default; a lot of the other stuff I read this year was either schlocky or unfinished.
photo book: the catalog from the Alexander McQueen at the NY Met is gorgeous.
cookbook: the smitten kitchen book.
26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
It was a good year: Bat for Lashes, Hood, Baroness, Beach House, Purity Ring, Swans, Tim Hecker, Fucked Up, and The Men.
27. What did you want and get?
a new macbook, a couple lenses, physical and psychic preparations for leaving.
28. What did you want and not get?
an amicable breakup, if such a thing was possible; also I didn't get out.
29. What was your favourite film of this year?
Moonrise Kingdom, though if I'd seen Cloud Atlas I'd probably put it here.
30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
27, and I joined in on the Ricardobel Birthday festivities.
31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Just one? More money in the bank would have taken care of most of my headaches, really.
32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
camo, chambray, cardigans, and florals.
33. What kept you sane?
I'm not really sure. I'm generally not, having come to the conclusion that if I think too much about it whatever tenuous balance I've attained will topple.
34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Anderson Cooper? Paul Rudd? Damian Lewis? Whatever, I'm easy.
35. What political issue stirred you the most?
gun control in the states, the slow unfolding of gay marriage across the US, the continued blood ban.
36. Who did you miss?
I miss Rob more than anybody; Hayles and Kristen aren't far behind, so this trip I'm planning for Easter is pretty pleasing to me.
37. Who was the best new person you met?
A bunch of coworkers: Dickie, Keegan, Spooner, BZ, Greenie and Adam make work bearable most days, and this year I reconnected pretty seriously with one Andrew, aka Chinny; between the couch and the pep talks and the shopping buddy-dom, I don't know if I'd have made it through this year in quite the same shape without him.
38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012:
I loved a man (my first), it didn't work, my heart was broken, and while I couldn't put it back together in exactly the same way, it became clear, over time, that this wasn't a bad thing.
39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
Pacing down the balance beam of half-remembered holidays
No rush of light, no sign of belonging
No joy in building, love in the finishing
Chasing down an anodyne and half-reflected radiance
Shearwater, "Animal Life"
I don't need another friend
When most of them
I can barely keep up with them
Perfectly able to hold my own hand
But I still can't kiss my own neck
Wye Oak, "Civilian"
Posted by Gerald at 23:20
November 28, 2012
it's like whack-a-mole: get one thing sorted and three more appear, and clear those three to find another five, and you wonder if this ends (briefly, though, until something else arises.)
Posted by Gerald at 16:39
October 11, 2012
Break the enormity of a thing down and down again, until it becomes nothing more than a series of lists to be checked off, and the act of leaving a place that is, quite literally, in your bones1 goes from mountain to molehill. Proceed with enough purpose to get through the whole thing but not too much; more certain than any calcified anything has been the frankly inconvenient tendency of adrenal tsunami to lay waste to any sort of forward motion2.
Maybe it's brought forth by some tectonically unknowable impulse—lizard-brain hangovers in some Verneian psychic centre of the world, hammering deep roots and rendering an already-shaky place wholly uninhabitable.
Maybe you're garden-variety crazy, and these fanciful explanations are just a way to avoid dealing with the reality of being up against yourself, that way.
Either way: breathe. Feel the first edges of winter in the air, search for the first taste of the inescapable rain you find yourself missing during summer days, wonder if the wind will bring you a little of the ocean.
Add these things to the list of things you'll miss, and wonder if you'll feel them again before you leave, and wonder what the air smells like in the place that you're moving to, and what it'll smell like in all the places you'll go before returning3.
1. left arm broken, age 6; jaws realigned, age 24; lifetime of backyard vegetables.
2. replaced, instead, with the twin urges to be alone or to be immersed in a sea of people.
3. it's not a certain thing, you keep saying, that you'll ever return, but there's probably enough iron in the surgical steel in your jaws to work like a compass and drag you home, face-first.
Posted by Gerald at 20:03
October 03, 2012
Over waffles, after meeting up, contrition and kisses across the front seat of his parents' car, I asked what his parents knew about me; I'd been on his case to at least inform them that they'd have another visitor for a few days (if not to actually come out to them; knowing how my own coming outh was going to go put me in no position to push him into it,) and he hadn't said anything at all, but apparently this wasn't an issue. I shrugged and returned to eating a waffle the honest-to-gods size of my face; unsure of how the next few hours, let alone days, would play out, I thought it was only sensible to enjoy breakfast.
I started this some months before returning to it, and in the middle realized that all this weird dredging up of personal historical unpleasantness isn't super constructive, and while the easiest thing to do would be to abandon a thing, I'm compelled, to some extent, to close this out in a manner that seems complete, for most purposes; really, for my purposes, which are the only ones that matter, here?
I met his parents, after breakfast, introduced as a friend who was staying here for a couple days who he'd met at a conference; none of which was problematic aside from the space issues, as he had family who was visiting from Edmonton and a family friend who was arriving in a couple days, but it was lovely to meet me and the cookies looked good.
What followed, from there, were a couple days of sun-drenched idyll, being led by the hand on a whirlwind tour of places worth noting (and others worth mocking,) formative people and a large-though-unsurprising number of clandestine makeouts. We shared a bed, and showered together, and spent long nights out and longer mornings in, all the while avoiding the discussion I thought he was going to have before I got there.
Other things happening: insightful advice from his mom that made it pretty clear she knew what was up (that I'd shown up with serious whiskey was also a sign; apparently none of his friends had done anything of the sort, before,) an outing to the beach with a stopoff for some frankly amazing goats milk gelato, me laying waste to the dude and his mom at Scrabble.
The last day, as I was packing up, we had some hilariously couple-y conversation, and heard his mother coming up the stairs (probably having heard enough to make things pretty obvious,) and he shot me a look to which I responded with raised brows and a shrug, remembering that I'd been wanting him to have this talk well before I'd arrived, since a "hey meet my boyfriend, parents," trip was what I'd signed up for and a "hello parents I'm going to behave oddly and avoid questions about this guy who's just a friend" trip was what I'd ended up having, to this point.
Downstairs, over single-malt, we cleared the air; I apologized for the subterfuge but was waved away, we found out about how his sister's coming out had been substantially more sanctimonious, she asked about kids and we, somewhat dazedly, explained about how that was on the list of things to be dealt with when we lived in the same city, and those plans were laid out, and things seemed largely okay.
We went to a party, briefly, and after downing a larger beer than was perhaps sensible, we returned to grab the bag before heading to the greyhound depot (another overnight bus; I'm not sure how I thought this was a good idea;) and one almost-tearful "see you in Montreal in six weeks" conversation later, headed home to Vancouver, to kill three hours before another shift at work; time I'd fill with Naam breakfast, a walk across the Burrard bridge, and listening to Left and Leaving and trying not to be visibly upset in public.
Posted by Gerald at 13:46
July 06, 2012
I woke up, some nights, (while we were still together and/or more than I care to admit to,) remembering one particular night spent curled up in some bed, ours on a strictly temporary basis: tangled a little more complexly than spoons, I had one hand on his chest and associated arm pulling him close, feeling the gentle and ongoing staccato thump of his heart as I drifted off. Feeling like some endlessly lucky bastard, I'd surveyed the gentle curves of his sleeping shoulders, satisfied (at that point, temporally,) that this was in fact the reality I'd become accustomed to, then let his heartbeat lull me back to sleep, until I woke, breathing him in, a little unsure of what side of dream I was on, again.
It was an enormously unlikely thing, at the outset, and so for the first little while I had to be reminded to holster my bafflement: that an unnecessary conference trip, a low-drag postmodern epistolary courtship conducted 140 characters at a time, and the fascinating interlock of our personalities and fields of nerdery would lead to all manner of gently romantic nonsense—like the above—seemed beyond mere numbers, as if some whole new field of physics needed to be created to adequately describe the surreal and increasing unlikelihood of our boyfriend-dom and its continuance. I'd learn eventually that there was a look I'd adopt when struck by the above, wide-eyed with wonder and a little pained with uncertainty; and that it ended up serving as his cue to reinforce what normalcy the situation merited or occasionally create some sort of distraction (the nature of which is best left alone, here) to retrieve me from whatever headspace I'd entered while conflating understanding the rarity of a thing with the act of simply enjoying it.
When things came to a close, it felt a bit like the compound improbability of our continued entanglement caught up with us; in some effort to smooth over whatever space-time disturbance we'd wrought, we found ourselves moving through mirror-world reenactments of our first days together: Toronto swapped for Vancouver, weariness for joy, what I'd thought to be the alteration of our orbits that brought us together revealed as nothing more than a blissful tangent; even our first and last kisses saw one of us standing watching the other walk to a train, riding a metal-and-glass tube on to the rest of our lives. Having recognized the end before being able to admit it to myself, I spent the trip from his door to mine balancing standard travel anxiety (coloured person problems!) against heartache foreshocks, jolted anew by multivariate and inescapable reminders of the man I'd spent a week visiting, who'd just left me feeling underfoot and then resented. It took a train, a bus, a plane, and an automobile to get me home, unhappiness rumbling all the while and mounting through weeks of uncertainty and radio silence. Discontent simmered while the rest of my life demanded attention and continued to do so until, finally, I received an email in reply to my thousand-word airing of woes, seven days after I'd called to make sure it was a reasonable thing, five after I'd sent it off and three after I'd decided we were over regardless of what the email contained—his silences had said more already than his words possibly could, and as much as I hoped it was otherwise, it was time to let go.
I hadn't really thought about it, and if pressed, I would've assumed some relatively graceful denouement: the slow fade of rose-tinted glasses to hindsight's clarity, lessons learned, reinforcement of self in the way of re-knitted bones, but, you know, with hearts. I was wrong about this, with only naivete to blame/credit for the enormity of my misunderstanding; what I'd thought—if I'd done this before, maybe—would be a smooth falling action turned out to be some dense and awful jumble of sine waves: jagged peaks, all-too-brief crests, and implacable valleys. I came to understand (like any complex wave) this one was composed of several others; if psychic Fourier transforms existed, I'd have seen the threads that threatened my own unraveling: the inversion of my original bafflement, some sense of betrayal, pretty straightforward anger (at him, but also at myself,) some level of regret at the things I didn't say, the replay of my shining and awful moment of comprehension (that night on his couch, watching him sleep in the next room, knowing and refusing to know where things went from there,) encroaching loneliness, and the whole assortment of things pop culture told me I was supposed to feel, according to who took the initiative (arguable, really—he checked out, but I had to start all the unpleasant conversations, or so my ego likes to think.)
I read, a lot, as a coping mechanism; devouring novels I'd enjoyed before and had worn in, mentally (in the way of an object that knows your shape, like Homer's apocryphal butt grooves) meant that I wasn't plumbing half-remembered conversation and archival ex-boyfriend texts in futile searches, nor did it allow me to imagine complex and unlikely scenarios involving reunion, absolution, roles reversed; some action of mine leading to his spiral of despair. Fully recognizing the futility of imagining all the things that could have gone right, if only some unknowable condition had been satisfied, I did it anyway, then shook my head (as if such thoughts could be dislodged,) and reached for another book.
Reading involved headphones (obviously) and with them, the readiness to skip a track should opening bars necessitate it; both lyrical content and temporal association seemed poised to reopen volumes of thought best left shut, though not without a note to return (being wholly, sadly aware of what happens when I leave this sort of thing to simmer/fester, depending.) A playlist built itself, slowly; equal parts soundtrack, barely-disguised things I wanted to say, and unrefined heartbreak, skewed slightly towards songs indicating both sadness and acceptance, with a marginal amount of hope for the future. It made sense, given aforementioned mirror-world reenactments, to put it out in the world in the same place I'd put all the other mixes, though this one was more for me than him—at this point, we were past words and I wasn't sure if I wanted to exchange more, given all the good the others had done. I leant on tracks missing things (lyrics from a Do Make Say Think track, a rhythm section in a Twilight Sad cover, any sort of pretence from The Wrens,) and waffled a bunch, careful of the semiotic minefield that was track selection and wanting to project (but not too much) a place of tentatively being okay with things being over (slash intermittently displeased) and not some sort of weird state of elemental wanting for things that had exited the realm of possibility, no matter how many quantum systems were collapsed (a thing I liked to think of having left behind in the air over the prairies.)
It went up, life went on, and I found myself explaining it at a party; being rendered crestfallen by a passing compliment merited fairly substantial exposition, where friends go, and in talking about the causality of a mix tape, the thoughts that had been bouncing around my head came spilling out, in the way of things that weren't really considered until they were said (and having been said, could only stay that way.) Yes, I thought he'd been awful to his loved ones (like that time I met his parents,) the only time we'd ever had an argument was when I needed him to be more patient and less impulsive (while I shot a wedding and he wanted to make out,) and certainly the things I'd been concerned about and had noted mentally to discuss when we lived in the same city (our shorthand for serious business,) were in fact the same things that brought about the end. Having done a year of long distance at that point, I wasn't enthused about another (at a minimum, given our school/life frameworks,) and while his previously proposed idea to live together for a summer seemed idyllic, it was more full of perils than I was ready to face.
That's not to say it was all bad; like any human endeavour, it bore peaks and troughs, and I loved him in the manner of first boyfriends: foolishly, without reservation, and so completely as to have been upended by his sudden absence. It took one man, six cities, an avalanche of text in a variety of mediums and a fair bit of improbability for me to fall in love, and as much as I hurt at the end, I wouldn't trade it for the world (insert Shakespeare here.) Ultimately, I admitted, in our last voice conversation (a drunk dial, during Bad Decisions Night,) that I'd probably have some sort of soft spot for him, and should he find himself in some sort of jam in which I could be of assistance, that he could call. He didn't reciprocate, and instead decided to tell me that he'd moved from doubting to decided while high on cactus on Family Day (which had fallen in the middle of my trip for our anniversary,) and while I went in search of another beer with which to continue bad decision-making, a number of things fell into relief, and the notion of breakup-as-bullet-dodged took root.
It bears mentioning, at this point, that I don't dream of him any longer, and haven't since our last conversation. Talking it out with a friend who knows us both (after I returned and before we actually broke up,) it was pointed out to me that one of us had no capability to reflect and be emotionally self-aware while the other did it constantly (as if running emotiond, for my UNIX nerds,) and that there was the central chasm to be bridged; I'd come further than halfway, but I couldn't make him reach out (though now I wonder if this was even possible.) Painful as it was to let go, holding on to someone who didn't want to be there would have been worse—I'd already made all my bad decisions in one night, after all, and was reduced to making sensible decisions (at least temporarily.)
Months later, I still wonder sometimes about what happened in his head to take us from a place of "generally working, despite geography" to "full-stop-I-don't-love-this-man," but I've come to understand (finally, yes,) that I won't get that without his relating it to me, rendering it functionally unknowable. His lack of comprehension regarding inner states was something he'd been apologetic (though not contrite) about in his last email to me, and every friend of his I'd run in to post-breakup (on multiple occasions; big cities are small places, some times,) had said much the same: he'd never had a handle on his inner states, and our relationship was regarded as some possible sea change until its ending, which while unsurprising in its manner was surprising for even having existed. I have no idea what to make of this, though it does recontextualize the "he's dating you?" looks I got early on, when meeting his friends, from what I thought was a body mismatch thing (the ex is an urban cyclist/effortlessly skinny person, I am none of the above,) to more of a "he's dating anybody?" sort of thing rooted in being aware of someone else's lack of self awareness, for which there must be some sort of compact German word (and which I recognize as small comfort but will take, regardless.) That his realization only came to him via recreational psychedelics (and not via any sort of internal means, as near as I've been told,) is one of those things I worried about until it sunk in that he wasn't mine to worry about, any longer, and all I can do is sigh, shake my head, and hope that he found out some things about himself, and some things to make life easier for future loves.
I learned some things from him: I'm worth loving; a beard is a good idea; sometimes life will upend you and that's okay; every decision doesn't have to be a good one; understanding a risk doesn't preclude taking it; talking with strangers isn't the end of the world; things are ridiculous and so they may as well be embraced.
I learned some things because of him, too: my instincts are good ones; to talk about the things that are problems you when they are bothersome; life will sneak in via blind spots, and all you can do is roll with it; I have surrounded myself with a cadre of people who've kept me going through all sorts of bullshit and will continue to do so; things work until they don't, and it's nobody's fault, sometimes.
From here, though, there's one more story to be told (the one about meeting his parents,) and then I'm ready to close this chapter: I loved a man (my first), it didn't work, my heart was broken, and while I couldn't put it back together in exactly the same way, it became clear, over time, that this wasn't a bad thing.
Posted by Gerald at 10:14